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Quebec’s ex-premier sought unilateral independence

SHARE Quebec’s ex-premier sought unilateral independence

The former premier of Quebec says he planned to declare the province independent from Canada within days if a majority had voted for a 1995 referendum about secession.

Jacques Parizeau, who retired after his separatist party narrowly lost the referendum, said he would have declared independence unilaterally rather than negotiate with Canada as promised.At the time, the separatists were publicly committed to negotiate for up to a year on a possible economic partnership with the rest of Canada before they would consider unilateral independence.

But the Quebec City daily Le Soleil, which published excerpts from Parizeau's book Wednesday, said he had planned to obtain swift diplomatic recognition from France and declare independence for the mostly French-speaking province.

The revelation startled allies and foes alike.

Quebec's current premier, Lucien Bouchard, a key campaigner for the referendum at the time, said he was never informed of Parizeau's plan for unilateral independence.

"Supposing Mr. Parizeau would have had this in mind, he could have never, never convinced a single person around him to do this," Bouchard told a news conference.

The separatists received 49.4 percent of the votes in the Oct. 30, 1995, referendum.

Bouchard has pledged to hold another referendum within a couple years - after he completes an overhaul of Quebec's troubled economy.